Second funeral for Hull great-grandmother found in Legacy probe

Jessie Stockdale died in October 2023 - her family attending a funeral and receiving a box of ashes back.

In March, they were horrified to learn her body had been found with 34 others at Legacy Independent Funeral Directors, in Hull, which is now the focus of a major police investigation over concern for care of the dead.

On Monday, the 89-year-old was finally laid to rest, with her family asking BBC News to cover the service at Hull Minster as they continue their fight for regulation of the funeral industry.

Mrs Stockdale's coffin is carried into Hull Minster
Mrs Stockdale's coffin is carried into Hull Minster [BBC]

Several months on from her death, Mrs Stockdale's family had hoped by now to be healing, comforted by happy memories.

Instead, they found themselves repeating her funeral, with the scab of grief lifted the moment police told them they had found the great-grandmother's body in Legacy's funeral parlour in Hessle Road - an area she called home.

Standing next to her coffin, adorned with a red wreath and a framed photograph of Mrs Stockdale, the Reverend Canon Dr Dominic Black told the 50-strong congregation: "This is one of the most bizarre funerals I have ever had to do.

"It's the only time, in all my years, where people have already had a funeral and yet here we are."

He added: "But this time we are properly laying Jessie to rest."

Mourners filed into the building to joyous images showing Mrs Stockdale doing the things she loved most: laughing with family, knitting, and tending to her beloved animals and garden.

Dr Black said the day was about remembering this "dear woman".

Following the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful, Dr Black gave a summary of Mrs Stockdale's long life.

Hailing from a large family, Mrs Stockdale grew up in Hessle Road - the home of Hull's once mighty fishing industry. She was an evacuee during World War Two.

Mrs Stockdale met her future husband, Maurice, on a "blind date", said Dr Black, with the couple going on to have seven children, all born at home.

To make ends meet, Mrs Stockdale worked "until her fingers were blue" in Hull's numerous fish houses. She also worked as a cleaner at Smith and Nephew and, at weekends, at the Debenhams department store.

Aerial view of Hessle Road funeral directors
In March, 35 bodies and a quantity of ashes were recovered by Humberside Police from the firm's premises [PA Media]

But the years of toil were not at the expense of fun, with the family telling how Mrs Stockdale's favourite holiday destination was Disneyland Paris, where she took her family several times.

"She was funny and she knew it," said Dr Black, to chuckles from her family.

The vicar told how Tristan Essex, 24, Mrs Stockdale's grandson, had lovingly cared for her in her final seven years.

Speaking to the BBC after going to say his "last goodbyes" to his grandmother on Friday, Mr Essex told of the trauma inflicted on his family.

"Nobody ever expects to have to arrange a second funeral," he said.

"What has happened at Legacy is nothing short of traumatic. We have all been left having sleepless nights, nightmares... I think that is going to be a hard thing to overcome.

"All Nana's memories have been tainted."

But Mr Essex - one of a number of people calling for regulation of the funeral industry - said the family hoped the funeral would give them some comfort.

Closing the service before a private cremation, Dr Black cited a passage from Song of Songs, reminding Mrs Stockdale's family that "love is stronger than death".

He added: "She will always be part of your family. That love carries on for generations."

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position remain on bail as police inquiries continue.

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